Jacked Up

My First Jack Fruit, Ever

Having seen beautiful pictures of South East Asia, and travelers tasting different exotic foods there, one being the Jack Fruit or Durian Fruit as it is also known; I was hoping to taste one, someday! It seemed that on one could describe the taste accurately, so I had a really clean canvas to explore.

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The one thing everyone agreed upon, was it’s awful smell. The Jack Fruit’s aroma made it unlikely to be well relished, making it a bit more difficult to ponder devouring it! So, and however, when persons got past the smell of the fruit, they all raved about how delicious it tasted; amazing, yummy, mouth watering, delectable flavor!

Lets discuss the “smell”, which wasn’t as repugnant as I thought; although, the first day there was a wafting odor from my kitchen sink. If you’ve ever smelled fresh from the plant Aloe Vera, it is similar to the Jack Fruit, (to me) the Aloe is stronger! The difference is that the Jack Fruit’s smell goes into the air, where as with fresh Aloe you need to get close to it, and get a good whiff.

Jack Fruit aka Big Al

I was pleasantly surprised, when a local green market had a Durian fruit! Of course, I snatched it up right away, and chatted with the merchant about how to prep it, and what was edible. He said that juice was also an option, and gave me some basic hints for juicing; also admitting, he had two trees in his yard!

At long last, I have a Jack fruit to call my own, it was big, heavy, and green; something like you want your bank account to be! Naming it “Big Al”, which is the name it inspired, although I normally don’t name fruits I’m sooner, or later, going to eat. Big Al, The Jack Fruit, or the Durian, “You Can Call Me Al”, as the Paul Simon song played in my head! I swear, and this is just from a fruit, that is new to me! Now, that’s excitement!!

Jack Fruit with mangoes, and bougainvillea.

I’m thinking splendid, right? Since, I can’t recall that anyone has actually described the flavor of Jack Fruit, ever! I’m full of anticipation. I start opening the fruit, by using a long kitchen knife, not sure where to exactly incise my cut? So, I decided to just go straight in, lengthwise into the fruit and feeling the large pods (seeds) underneath the blade of the knife. Trying to somehow cut as few pods as possible, which are covered in a creamy-yellow-flesh, I use my hands to negotiate a tug of war with the fruit’s sinuous fibers. The fruit’s peel, is full of tiny green cone-shaped mounds, which makes for one touch skin!

Jack Fruit cut in half.

The sticky-milk substance, stains my hands, and glues to every surface of my finger nails; actually it’s damn good glue, capturing a small fly that happened to make a bad judgement-call, and landed on the opened half! My knife is completely covered with the glue, and it looks like it’ll take a lot of soaking to get it clean.

Jack Fruit with seed pods.

Success! I am getting the flesh and squirting out the seed pods, taking the fleshy part for my first taste, ever!!! Uhm, wait a minute, this is Jack Fruit? That’s it??? Ok, so maybe I need to have a few more tastes, one of which was very sweet, however for the most part…not as exciting as I expected.

The fight with Big Al, was a pretty big, the struggle of getting it opened, the work of cleaning the fleshy-fruit, and the naturally-organic-glue all over my hands lead to one question: was it worth it?

Well, lets discuss, and understand the flavor more carefully. Describing the delicate flavor of the Jack Fruit isn’t easy at first, as taste-buds search for a reference.

The flavor is slightly vanilla-like, however it’s also banana-ish, maybe tapioca-banana-ish!

Yes that’s it, tapioca-banana, only not as sweet.

Jack Fruit, and mangoes still life.

So, that’s it! Unless someone peels, and preps the Jack Fruit for me, I’m not doing it again. Maybe there’s a better way to open a Jack Fruit, but I wasn’t thrilled with the flavor.

I do keep wondering about how Jack Fruit can be used in desserts, or even martinis, and maybe mimosas? A Jack-tini, maybe??

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Cheers, I will let you know how my search for recipes, and uses for Jack Fruit continues!

Important To Know:

Power Health Food – This is where Jack Fruit exceeds expectations!

More Health Benefits of Jack Fruit

Info and Side Effects

Recipes:

Vegetarian Jack Fruit Shawarma

Chipotle Jack Fruit Tacos

Six Ingredient Pulled Jack Fruit

Wild About Tomatoes

The plant appeared out of nowhere, and a rub of the serrated, furry leaves, gave the plant away. That smell that all gardeners know, or anyone that has had the pleasure, of enjoying farm fresh tomatoes!

The diminutive tomato, was cherry in size, which also gave way to what I now call the “double header”, the “miniature big boy” aka heirloom tomato, and not to be out done the “pearl” tomato. It seemed that the plants just kept giving more, and more; and, with every harvest, a different tomato seemed to pop out of the same plant.

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Which ultimately, one plant, turned into at least ten plants; as with every harvest, the seeds were given back to the earth.

The fact that the first plant, was what I would call “wild”, makes it even more of a happy occurrence.  Intuitively, I had to save the seeds, if  I did that in my childhood garden; where, my “Big Boy” tomatoes were so proliferous, my neighbors always got to enjoy huge baskets.

I squished the tomato seeds, into a jar (that has a wide opening) to fit my hand into. The deeper the jar the better, but trust me, you will get splashed with seeds!  Next,  let the jar sit for about a week; by then the seeds have separated into a liquid, which stays at the top of the jar, the seeds will float to the bottom.

fermenting

Please do not put the seed jar, in a hot place, nor direct sunlight; other wise you will have a rather explosive situation, literally, & it does smell nasty!

I’m not in a hurry, so to be honest, it could be more than a weeks time, but so we could have a time-guide, we’ll use a week. The seeds that are good, float to the bottom, and the ones that float at the top are not good for planting; you can add water, a few drops of dishwashing liquid,  and shake in the jar, once the fermentation is done.

Sitting in it’s own brine, if you will, allows to rid any disease-causing microbes (bacteria, viruses, protozoa or fungi) from going to the next generation of plants.  To begin with, I did not use any plant food, nor fertilizer on the plants, or soil.

Since, these are organic, hardy, very low maintenance (if any), and deliciously-easy to grow I would love for everyone to enjoy fresh tomatoes for the meals, salads, & more!

heirloom tomatoes

You can use containers, or tomato cages, or quite fun just let them grow on the ground; they will sprawl to quite a large diameter. I would love to try these tomato plants in the upside down planter, so I think I will!

types of cherry tomatoes

All I know is, I’ve never seen such hardy plants, with almost zero maintenance.  What I would suggest is, getting seeds that are organic, and once you have your first crop, save the seeds; and just keep planting.

I hope you enjoy gardening, remember to try new recipes, share with your friends, and family, or even sell at your local green markets. It will be worth it!

Cherry tomatoes

Please feel free to comment, and let me know , if you decide to plant tomatoes? Send some pictures, please!

 

Quotes About Gardens:

What is a weed? A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Personal Notes:

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) foods, are not the way to nurture ourselves, families, or friends. What is known as Non-GMO foods, which are preferably Organic, have only what nature intended you to have. How to tell if fruits, vegetables, and other products are Non-GMO:

Recipe For Pizzaiola:

 

I used fresh garden tomatoes, and added green peppers.

 

More Helpful Info About Tomatoes:

Video Info About Tomatoes

What Is Meant By Open Pollination

How To Make Your Own Tomato Juice

Canning Tomatoes For Beginners

How To: Select and Store Tomatoes

How To: Growing Tomatoes From Seed

Chicago Restaurant Association Chef’s Table 2012 at Union Station

chef’s Table Union Station, Chicago: Get Tickets Please!

Vino Con Vista Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Wino

The 35th Annual Chicago Restaurateurs for Education Event is “From the Chef’s Table.” This premier Foodie event will feature some of Chicago’s top restaurants and executive chefs.

WHEN: Friday, November 9th, 2012

WHERE: Union Station in Chicago at 500 W. Jackson

To buy your tickets online please click here.

Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois.

The foodservice industry in Illinois produces $19.2 billion in annual sales and is the largest private sector employer in the State. The Association’s events provide networking opportunities for members and raise funds for their Educational Foundation Scholarship Initiative. This organization also sponsors The Chicago Gourmet.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

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